Last night was a big one for us! We launched our new programming platform Bavel Blocks at the All Things Open Conference in Raleigh. We’ve been working on the platform for the last six months and it was finally ready to be shared with the public!
Vicki and I volunteer with a number of organizations and through Triangle TechGirlz, we hosted a 1.5 hour session at the conference. About 20 girls attended and each girl brought their own device, a laptop or tablet. They used the Bavel Blocks programming environment on Windows, MacBooks, Chromebooks and Android tablets. We ran into a couple of glitches with using Safari on Apple devices, but everyone was successful using the Chrome browser. For now, we recommend Chrome for most devices and the Opera browser on Kindle devices. We’ve found that IE works fine too!
The girls made our introductory project “Bubbles” (video included). This project introduces the Bavel programming environment and teaches basic computer science concepts such as variables and functions. This project also reinforces mathematical concepts. We explain how the coordinate plane is used to position images on the screen and how to use a scaling factor on the image so images are sized appropriately on all devices. They learn about velocity and rotation. Just watch the bubbles and the crab. There is a lot to be learned from building one of our projects!
It took the girls about an hour to complete the project and in the last half hour they were able to make lots of modifications, both in the appearance and behavior of their project. When they finished, no two projects were the same. This is exactly what we hoped for and were delighted at how much creativity the girls put into their projects!
At the end of the session, we had happy girls showing their projects to their parents. We got lots of feedback about the platform from the girls:
how easy it is to use,
how much fun they had making projects and
how much they enjoyed expressing their creativity using Bavel Blocks!
Most of the girls had never been to a TechGirlz event and had no experience with programming. They were surprised by how much they could accomplish and how much they learned.
We got lots of feedback from parents too! Because the session was hosted at All Things Open conference, most of the parents use or produce technology as part of their job. They told us we had an amazing platform and wanted to know how to continue using Bavel Blocks. They were delighted to hear that their child could build projects with Bavel at home, that all they needed was a web browser and access to the internet.
Here’s a photo of our session tweeted by Triangle TechGrilz.